I recently volunteered to help with a local parade. My main responsibility was to help direct traffic: basically, I stopped each vehicle, and asked them if they were participating in the parade. If they said no, I told them they had to turn around because the road was closed. One person ignored me after I told them to turn around and kept going. Several people didn't stop when I motioned for them to stop, so I didn't get a chance to tell them to turn around. Did they break any laws?

  • Can we arbitrarily assume Portland as the jurisdiction, since this is a somewhat municipal matter.
    – user6726
    Jul 6, 2022 at 4:29
  • @user6726 sure, although it wasn't in Portland. It was in a relatively small (incorporated) town. If it's likely that small towns would all handle this similarly, just pick any small to medium town near the coast.
    – Someone
    Jul 6, 2022 at 4:35
  • (not sure if being on the coast matters; just trying to narrow it down to a region without giving away the specific town I live in)
    – Someone
    Jul 6, 2022 at 4:36
  • So, the town assigned you this role?
    – Dale M
    Jul 6, 2022 at 5:05
  • @DaleM I was assigned the role by the organization I was volunteering with. The member of our organization who coordinated our work for the parade was assigned the role of assigning people to direct traffic by the parade coordinator, who was assigned her role by the town. I hope that makes sense.
    – Someone
    Jul 6, 2022 at 5:09

1 Answer 1


Pursuant to ORS 811.445,

A person commits the offense of use of a throughway when prohibited if any use restrictions or prohibitions are posted by appropriate signs giving notice thereof and the person violates any restriction or prohibition so posted

and you get a traffic ticket for violation. A narrow interpretation of the word "sign" is some physical object with appropriate words like "Road closed for parade", but a broader interpretation is "an indication", such as a person saying "Road closed for parade". Nothing in state law restricts this notification power to only uniformed officers. However, ORS 811.535 which is the general "failure to obey" law only applies to disobeying uniformed police officers displaying a badge. The difference between the two offenses is that violating "use when prohibited" is only a class D infraction while disobeying a uniformed police officer is a class B infraction.

State law does not say what kind of person can direct traffic, it frames restrictions in terms of what a traffic authority can regulate (such as parades). County or municipal ordinances might then specifically say who is authorized to direct traffic. I assume it was not unknowable that there was a parade then and there, so the driver was already on notice that the road was closed to regular traffic. Nevertheless, state law does require that there be a "sign", so if you had called the police to ticket a person, they might have made a federal or at least state case out of it, and we could learn what, in Oregon, the word "sign" means in the context of that law.

A crucial question is whether the road was closed by a competent traffic authority. That would be the county, I presume, and not e.g. the local Amvets chapter.

  • So if I want to be sure my instructions are legally binding, I should write on a piece of cardboard "ROAD CLOSED FOR ALL NON-PARADE TRAFFIC" and hold it up where drivers will see it? What if I just want someone to stop so I can talk to them? Can I hold up a stop sign?
    – Someone
    Jul 6, 2022 at 5:14
  • The road was closed by the town, but my "authority" was through volunteering with a local club (similar to "the local Amvets chapter"), and the club had an informal agreement with the town.
    – Someone
    Jul 6, 2022 at 5:15
  • Some people were surprised that there was a parade, but they really shouldn't have been. It's a very well-advertised event, and it's taken place on the same day every year for over thirty years. These were people who have lived here for several years.
    – Someone
    Jul 6, 2022 at 5:19
  • 1
    Where I live, when a parade takes place (that is officially announced and approved) the police places road blocks with official "No entry" signs on the lanes. The volunteers are then tasked to control that no one (who is not permitted to) drives around the blocks. And the sign makes it clear that it's an approved parade. It's also a safety thing in view of some cases of people deliberately driving into a parade or the spectators.
    – PMF
    Jul 6, 2022 at 11:29

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